Straight to the source: Kent Brown on Media Days
Editor's note: the WDWS sports crew will broadcast live from Big Ten football media days on Monday from 4 to 6 p.m. Listen on 1400-AM or wdws.com.
Illinois sports information director Kent Brown will find himself a busy man next week, helping shuttle Tim Beckman, Simon Cvijanovic, Jon Davis and Austin Teitsma to various media interviews during the course of Big Ten Media Days. Before the veteran Illinois athletic department employee heads to Chicago for two days of football talk, Illinois beat writer Matt Daniels caught up with him:
How has the conference’s media days changed throughout the years?
My first Big Ten Football Media Days and Kickoff Luncheon was in 1988 at the Chicago Hyatt on Wacker Drive. As a young graduate assistant, I was a bit overwhelmed by all the head coaches and great players congregating in one room, along with media from all across the nation. The biggest changes since that time period really have to do with the changing media landscape, with fewer newspaper reporters and more television and web reporters. Much of our time during those two days are spent moving our players and coach to different rooms with the conference television partners. The BTN takes full advantage of having every league coach and the best players in one spot.
How do you determine which Illinois players go?
In determining which players from Illinois will attend media days, we usually start with seniors and try to choose guys who are leaders of the team, are well-spoken and will represent the Fighting Illini in a positive manner. The head coach and I discuss the potential players, and we usually come to the same conclusion. Each coach is a little different, but Coach Beckman likes to use this as a reward for a senior who has done a great job as a team leader over the summer. During my time at Illinois, we’ve taken very few non-seniors. Nathan Scheelhaase was the exception. He would have gone his final three years if it had totally been left up to me. He may be the greatest team spokesperson we’ve ever had at Illinois.
What are some funny moments you’ve had at Big Ten Media Days?
The funniest memory I have from the almost 25 Big Ten Media Days that I’ve attended has to do with a guy and his sidekick playing the shell game using three whiskey bottle caps on a rolled-up newspaper while riding the El train from old Comiskey Park back to the hotel, and seeing someone lose $20 to the oldest trick in the book. But, from the actual media days and kickoff luncheon, the most enjoyable memories come from the bantering that Joe Tiller and Joe Paterno would share while speaking to the sold-out ballroom during the luncheon. The kickoff luncheon is one of the unique traditions that makes the Big Ten Conference special. Coaches who come into the league without any Big Ten background don’t understand how special that event is until they attend.